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Why the big picture matters: Political and media populism in western Europe since the 1970s

While a vast theoretical literature argues that we live in populist times, the success of populism beyond its electoral dimension is rarely investigated empirically. This paper analyses the development of populism in five Western European countries (Austria, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom) from the 1970s to the 2010s. First, it measures whether political parties articulate populist discourses more and more often in their election manifestos. Second, the paper tests whether the presence of populism has increased over time in newspaper articles. The results show that populism is not a new phenomenon and that there is no linear increase over the decades. Moreover, while election manifestos are significantly more populist in the 2010s than in previous decades, populism in newspaper articles remains rather stable at a low level, suggesting that the media curb rather than foster populist discourses.

Project Number IP 11: Populism and national political cultures
Author(s) Manucci, Luca & Edward Weber
Series/Publication Swiss Political Science Review 23(4)
Year 2017
Pages 313-334
URL http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/spsr.12267/full
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